05
May
09

Related Newswires Articles on Torture from Huffington Post

Guantanamo Bay-1

Newswire Updates:

White House Authorized Earliest Detainee Abuse, CIA Log Says
from The Huffington Post | by Ari Shapiro | NPR

It is clear that increasingly abusive interrogation techniques were used on Abu Zubaydah, the first high-value detainee, in the months between his capture and the first Justice Department memo authorizing harsh interrogations. But the legal guidance that authorized those early interrogations remains shrouded in secrecy.

Zubaydah was picked up on March 28, 2002. The Justice Department issued its first memo on torture four months later on Aug. 1.

Zubaydah’s lawyer, Brent Mickum, believes documents and testimony in the public record establish “beyond question that Abu Zubaydah was subjected to torture before the issuance of the Aug. 1 memorandum.”

‘Harsher and Harsher Methods’

The public record includes testimony from Ali Soufan, a former FBI interrogator who was with Zubaydah during April and May of 2002. Soufan told Congress last week that “contractors had to keep requesting authorization to use harsher and harsher methods.”

Soufan testified that in the first two months of Zubaydah’s interrogation, a CIA contractor used nudity, sleep deprivation, loud noise and extreme temperatures during interrogations. That contractor has been identified as a psychologist named James Mitchell. Mitchell has not commented publicly in recent years, and he could not be reached for this story.

Supreme Court Detainee Decision May Not Block Suits Against Top Officials
from The Huffington Post | Washington Independent

In denying the right of a Muslim Pakistani immigrant to sue former Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller for his prolonged imprisonment and harsh treatment based on his religion and national origin, the Supreme Court on Monday raised the bar for plaintiffs seeking to sue high-level government officials for policies carried out by their subordinates.

Some in the media have reported that the decision revokes a detainee’s right to sue a public official for wrongful detention or mistreatment. In fact, the ruling was tailored narrowly, leaving the door open to such suits in the future. Yet it remains unclear how specific the plaintiff’s claims must be for a court to allow the case to proceed against high-level officials who condone unconstitutional practices.

In a sharply divided 5-4 opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority and joined by the conservative wing of the court, wrote that Javaid Iqbal had not set out sufficient specific facts to present a plausible case. Iqbal had claimed that after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks the Justice Department and FBI, led by Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI director Mueller, instituted a policy that resulted in the arrests and mistreatment of thousands of men based solely on their race, religion or national origin.

Bush Lawyers’ Disbarment Sought
from The Huffington Post | Full News Feed by The Huffington Post News Editors

Two outside groups want Bush administration lawyers linked to memos on harsh interrogation techniques of detainees to lose their licenses to practice law.

Complaints were to be filed Monday against former attorneys general John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury. The complaints were being filed in the District of Columbia and four states _ New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania.

Memos by the Bush Justice Department contended that waterboarding _ a form of simulated drowning _ as well as sleep deprivation and other extreme techniques were legal under U.S. and international law.

The groups VotersForPeace.US and Velvet Revolution say the lawyers misused their licenses.

US Skeptical That Former CIA Detainee’s Death In Libyan Jail Was Suicide
from The Huffington Post | Newsweek By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

The Obama Administration is pressing the Libyan government to explain the reported prison death of a former CIA detainee—an incident that U.S. officials fear could reopen questions about the agency’s “extraordinary rendition” program and further complicate the president’s plans to shut down the Guantánamo Bay detention center. According to human-rights groups, the body of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi—once one of the U.S. government’s prize captives—was turned over to family members last week after they were told he had committed suicide at Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison by hanging himself with a bedsheet. But U.S. officials are skeptical about the supposed suicide, which was first reported in a newspaper owned by Libyan leader Muammar Kaddafi’s son. Two weeks earlier, al-Libi was visited for the first time by human-rights workers investigating allegations that he had been tortured into making false claims connecting Saddam Hussein’s regime and Al Qaeda. (Those claims, which al-Libi later retracted, were used by the Bush administration to bolster its case for the Iraq War.) Al-Libi also had been identified recently by U.S. defense lawyers as a possible key witness in upcoming trials of top terror suspects. “We want answers,” said an administration official familiar with the case, who asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive matter. “We want to know what really happened here.”

Al-Libi’s death highlights a predicament facing Obama officials: returning detainees to countries that practice torture. Seven Libyans remain at Guantánamo, and U.S. officials are loath to send home any more. Last year, President Bush resumed diplomatic relations with Libya and removed it from a list of “state sponsors” of terror. But a State Department human-rights report recently concluded that Libyan security forces “routinely tortured” prisoners by applying electric shocks, breaking fingers, pouring lemon juice on open wounds and burning them with cigarettes. The U.S. official said, “It’s not in the U.S. interest to send people back to countries where they’re going to be abused or end up dead.”

Frank Rich: Obama Can’t Turn The Page On Bush
from The Huffington Post | NY Times

To paraphrase Al Pacino in “Godfather III,” just when we thought we were out, the Bush mob keeps pulling us back in. And will keep doing so. No matter how hard President Obama tries to turn the page on the previous administration, he can’t. Until there is true transparency and true accountability, revelations of that unresolved eight-year nightmare will keep raining down drip by drip, disrupting the new administration’s high ambitions.

That’s why the president’s flip-flop on the release of detainee abuse photos — whatever his motivation — is a fool’s errand. The pictures will eventually emerge anyway, either because of leaks (if they haven’t started already) or because the federal appeals court decision upholding their release remains in force. And here’s a bet: These images will not prove the most shocking evidence of Bush administration sins still to come.

There are many dots yet to be connected, and not just on torture. This Sunday, GQ magazine is posting on its Web site an article adding new details to the ample dossier on how Donald Rumsfeld’s corrupt and incompetent Defense Department cost American lives and compromised national security. The piece is not the work of a partisan but the Texan journalist Robert Draper, author of “Dead Certain,” the 2007 Bush biography that had the blessing (and cooperation) of the former president and his top brass. It draws on interviews with more than a dozen high-level Bush loyalists.

KSM Questioned About al Qaeda-Iraq Ties During Waterboarding
from The Huffington Post | by Sam Stein

Some of the first questions asked of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed upon his capture and during the time during which he was waterboarded were about possible connections between al Qaeda and Iraq, according to a review of several reports on U.S. intelligence operations.

The mastermind of the September 11 attacks was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on March 1, 2003, and according to Office of Legal Counsel memos released last month, was waterboarded 183 times that same month.

The substance of the intelligence that was being sought from him has been an object of some speculation, with several defenders of the interrogation practice arguing that the goal was to prevent an impending attack on America. But a line buried on page 353 of the July 2004 Select Committee on Intelligence report on pre-Iraq war intelligence strongly suggests that the interrogation was just as centered on a possible Iraq-al-Qaeda link as terrorist activity.

“CTC [Counter Terrorist Center] noted that the questions regarding al-Qaida’s ties to the Iraqi regime were among the first presented to senior al-Qaida operational planner Khalid Shaikh Muhammad following his capture.”

Revelations that KSM was questioned about possible al Qaeda ties to Iraq at roughly the same time that he was undergoing waterboarding provides some key insight into the purpose of the CIA interrogations. A recently de-classified Senate Armed Services Committee report quoted army psychologist Maj. Paul Burney as saying that a large part of his time on a Behavioral Science Consultation Team was “focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq.” McClatchy newspapers, meanwhile, published an article last month citing a former intelligence official acknowledging that the Bush administration had pressured interrogators to use harsh techniques to produce evidence connecting the terrorist organization and Iraq’s regime.

Paul Abrams: Dick Cheney: A Life Pattern of Sabotaging the Security of the United States
from The HuffingtonPost.com by Paul Abrams

As in the torture discussions, Dick Cheney has always tried mightily to portray himself as a staunch defender of the United States. For the most part, on that claim, the media has given him a pass. The MSM “discussions” of Cheney’s aggressive statements focus on their (often highly questionable) veracity and their political impact.

But Cheney’s argument that he was just trying to protect America does not wash. He has a scurrilous life pattern of providing aid-and-comfort to enemies of the United States. Here are 4 examples in reverse chronological order:

Joseph A. Palermo: Can We Please See Less Dick Cheney?
from HuffingtonPost.com by Joseph A. Palermo

Dick Cheney insists on inserting himself into our political discourse in a very creepy, strange, and unaccountable way. Every time he appears he reminds us how terrible the last eight years were. With his unyielding assertions and tone of infallibility he seems to be one of the only prominent rightwingers left in America who has yet to figure out that the real world has made a shambles of his ideology. Cheney cannot accept that he is no longer in power, hence his ubiquity on the public airwaves. He had a golden opportunity to participate after serving two terms as Vice President. He could have run for president in 2008 as the natural standard bearer for George W. Bush. Or he could position himself for a run in the Republican primaries in 2012. He’ll have no problem raising money and look at all the free exposure the corporate media give him. The way Cheney savors the idea of returning to power he reminds me of one of those “dead enders” in Iraq he talked so much about.

Jim Lichtman: My Problem with Dick Cheney
from The HuffingtonPost.com by Jim Lichtman

During his tenure as vice president, Mr. Cheney would rarely sit for interviews to discuss the Bush administration’s policy choices during his eight years in office. Lately, the reticent Mr. Cheney has taken to sitting down with anyone and everyone in an effort to get “the other side of the story,” out regarding President Obama’s decision to close the Guantanamo detention center as well as the administration’s ban on water-boarding and other national security issues.

I didn’t always feel this way about the former vice president.

Mr. Cheney served as Chief of Staff to President Ford, whom Ford referred to in his book as “a great friend… he did a great job for me.” However, Ford’s opinion of Cheney changed under the second Bush administration. In his book, “Write It When I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford” by reporter Thomas DeFrank, “Ford questioned the need for warrantless surveillance.”

Mark Nickolas: Khalid Sheik Mohammed: “I Gave A Lot Of False Information” To Make Torture Stop
from The HuffingtonPost.com by Mark Nickolas

For all the attention that the Bush administration torture memos have been receiving over past month, those documents pale in comparison to the revelations documented in the leaked 40-page report issued by the International Committee for the Red Cross following two rounds of private interviews it held with the 14 “high value detainees” held at Guantanamo Bay.

If you want to know what our country did to those detainees — especially Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Rahim al-Nashiri (all three were waterboarded and suffered the worst treatment) — then read the Red Cross report. It will leave you with a very sickening feeling about the depths to which President Bush and Vice President Cheney were willing to go to try to justify its disastrous war in Iraq (while the detainees were providing ample information during FBI interrogations about the 9/11 plot, the torture apparently began as they sought evidence about the non-existent al-Qaida/Iraq link) and how we morphed into the very monsters that we once condemned when it came to the actions of other nations.

IG Report: Waterboarding Was Neither “Efficacious Or Medically Safe”
from The Huffington Post News Editors

A CIA inspector general’s report from May 2004 that is set to be declassified by the Obama White House will almost certainly disprove claims that waterboarding was only used in controlled circumstances with effective results.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported the impending release of a May 7, 2004 IG report that, the paper added, would show that in several circumstances the techniques used to interrogate terrorist suspects “appeared to violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture” and did not produce desired results. It is difficult, the report will conclude, “to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks.”

A fury of speculation ensued among a host of reporter-bloggers, who viewed the forthcoming information as the strongest proof to date that proclamations of waterboarding’s usefulness were overblown.

Cheney Has “No Regrets” Over Interrogation Policies, War On Terror
from The Huffington Post News Editors

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday, that he had no regrets about the course of actions he and the Bush administration pursued when it came to interrogating suspected terrorists or, more broadly, waging the war on terror.

“No regrets,” Cheney declared during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. I am convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives.”

Dick Cheney: “I Have No Regrets On Interrogation Policy”

Jeff Norman: Obama’s Master Plan
from  HuffingtonPost.com by Jeff Norman

Although nothing about our nation’s legal obligation to prosecute (or extradite) torturers was mentioned, last night’s exchange between President Obama and reporter Jake Tapper suggests a criminal investigation is inevitable. Obama flatly stated that waterboarding is torture and referred to the Bush administration’s sanctioning of the interrogation technique as “a mistake.”

On his blog, Marc Cooper shares the thoughts of two friends who believe Obama “is playing this like a virtuoso, that he remains two steps ahead of the rest of us, and that he is masterfully engineering this to wind up in the hands of a klieg-lit congressional drama…”

Cooper links to Jonathan Taplin’s theory that the reason Dick Cheney has been aggressively defending the Bush administration’s use of torture, is the former VP realizes his day of reckoning is on the horizon.

Newt Gingrich Throws Bombs At “McCarthyist,” “Radical” Obama
by The Huffington Post News Editors

In an interview that was fiery even by his standards, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accused the Obama administration of coddling terrorists, labeled the idea of investigating the Bush administration as modern day “McCarthyism,” and falsely charged that the Democratic-controlled Congress never tried to outlaw torture.

It was, if nothing else, a tour de force in oppositional politics. Sitting down with “Fox News Sunday,” Gingrich insisted that the former firm of Attorney General Eric Holder had represented 17 alleged terrorists on a pro-bono basis. “For no fee,” he added, for good measure. “It is the largest single thing they were doing for free, defending Yemenis.”

Waterboarding Not Discussed At CIA Briefings, Congressional Aide Says
from  The Huffington Post News Editors

A senior aide to another member of Congress briefed by the CIA around the same time as Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells the Huffington Post that the use of waterboarding was never mentioned at those briefings.

Pelosi is under fire today after CIA logs showed that she was briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques in 2002. Several media accounts asserted that the CIA report ‘appeared to contradict’ Pelosi’s statements that she was never informed that such techniques were being used (the Associated Press was more careful, running a headline, “CIA docs unclear on Pelosi interrogation briefings.”)

And indeed, while Pelosi’s critics have pounced on the new revelations, it’s not at all clear that there is a contradiction.

David O. Stewart: The Torture of Impeachment
from HuffingtonPost.com by David O. Stewart

Next week, a panel of Deep Thinkers in Washington will consider whether Judge Jay Bybee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit should be impeached and removed from office.

His potentially impeachable offense? Writing one of the Justice Department memoranda in 2002 that approved interrogation techniques that include waterboarding and other forms that only can be described as torture.

Keith Thomson: Al Qaeda: Happy Campers?
from HuffingtonPost.com by Keith Thomson

49 percent of Americans oppose the use of torture no matter the circumstance, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll (48 percent believe the United States should consider torture on a case basis). The country also is split on whether President Obama should investigate the treatment of terrorism suspects under the previous administration (51 percent want an inquiry, 47 don’t).

At the same time, the intelligence community’s perception that fear will be removed from the equation has caused morale to plummet. “At its lowest point since the days of the Church Committee in the 70’s,” is the consensus I gathered from a range of intelligence community sources. One said that Al Qaeda members are “happy” with the new U.S. policy that essentially has opened our interrogation playbook to them. Fred Rustmann, who was a CIA operations officer for twenty-five years, says that the terrorists “feel as if they’ve been given a Get Out Of Jail Free card.”

“Al Qaeda becomes dangerous when they have a feeling of security,” former Homeland Security Advisor Kenneth Wainstein told me. “We’ve seen that movie before with Afghanistan, in the 1990’s, when they built up the infrastructure they used for 9/11.”

Cheney: “Mistake” For GOP To “Moderate,” Glad That Detainees Were Waterboarded
from  The Huffington Post News Editors

Cheney said, when asked to respond to Obama’s statement that interrogators may not have needed to resort to torture. “That assumes that we didn’t try other ways, and in fact we did. We resorted, for example, to waterboarding, which is the source of much of the controversy, with only three individuals. In those cases, it was only after we’d gone through all the other steps of the process. The way the whole program was set up was very careful, to use other methods and only to resort to the enhanced techniques in those special circumstances.”

Psychologists Under Fire For Role In Torture
from  The Huffington Post News Editors

Newly released internal APA documents indicate that the organisation’s 2005 ethics task force on national security interrogations developed its policy to conform to Pentagon guidelines governing psychologist participation in interrogations, said Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

PHR is calling for an independent, outside investigation of the APA and a probe by the Defence Department’s Inspector General into whether any federal employees exerted influence over the APA’s Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS).

Pelosi Briefed On Use Of Interrogation Tactics In Sept. 2002
from The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com by The Huffington Post News EditorsHouse

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah in September 2002, according to a report prepared by the Director of National Intelligence’s office and obtained by ABC News.

Torture Images From Set Of Standard Operating Procedure Retell Story Of Abu Ghraib
from The Huffington Post News Editors

Memos released on April 16, 2009 describe in detail “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on terrorism suspects. While many American’s have heard the controversy surrounding the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, few have clear depictions of what these techniques look like.

These photographs were created on the set of Standard Operating Procedure, a film by Errol Morris that tells the story of what happened at Abu Ghraib.

These images are accurate reenactments of events that took place in the prison. They are intended to make visible the idea of torture and to provoke the observer to imagine what it is like to be tortured.

‘Torture Memo’ Authors Under New Scrutiny, But Criminal Charges Unlikely
from The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com by The Huffington Post News Editors

A Bush administration attorney who approved harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects advocated in 2006 that President Bush set aside recommendations by his own Justice Department to bring prosecutions for such practices, that the President should consider pardoning anyone convicted of such offenses, and even that jurors hearing criminal cases about such matters engage in jury nullification.

That advice came from John Yoo, a former attorney with the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and author of memos that served as a legal rationale for the Bush administration’s interrogation techniques. Yoo’s recommendations constitute one of the most compelling pieces of a body of evidence that Yoo and other government attorneys improperly skewed legal advice to allow such practices, according to sources familiar with a still-confidential Justice Department report.

Bush Official Suggests Cheney Torture Cover-Up
from The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com by The Huffington Post News Editors

On April 21, Philip Zelikow, who was counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the Bush administration, revealed on Foreign Policy’s “Shadow Government” blog that he wrote a memo in 2005 disputing the conclusions of Bush Justice Department lawyers that torture was legal. The existence of such a memo was a surprise. But Zelikow also disclosed that the “White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo.”

Marlene H. Phillips: Retired Brigadier General: Those Who Approved Torture “Must Be Held Accountable”
from HuffingtonPost.com by Marlene H. Phillips

In my interview with Adams, he made clear that during all his years of service and training, including his tenure as a professor at West Point, what he learned and what he taught was consistent: the United States military always acts under the rule of law, in accordance with the Geneva Convention, and upholds the Constitution. What was not taught, or even discussed, were terms like harsh or enhanced interrogation techniques (“I never heard those terms used”), or arguments concerning what constitutes a so-called unique enemy (“In all my training, the current discussions are the first time I ever heard that argument used”). Said Adams: “I have never known anyone in a leadership position in the military who would condone torture. They would never do it. It would go against all the training we had, and against what we were trained to do, which is to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Ex-CIA Chiefs Slowed Torture Memos Release
from Huffington Post | PAMELA HESS | April 17, 2009 04:48 PM EST

The Obama administration’s release of classified Bush-era memos on harsh CIA interrogations was delayed for nearly a month in part because of strenuous objections from four former intelligence directors.

Will Obama Block Release of Key Bush-era Torture Memos?

Huffington Post |  Jeremy Scahill

On several occasions, Obama has invoked the “state secrets” doctrine, including to argue that a lawsuit filed against the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping should be thrown out.

Expedience and the Torture Amnesty
from Huffington Post | David Bromwich | Professor of Literature at Yale

President Obama’s statement on releasing the Bush-era torture memos is a curious and depressing document, but it bears the marks of having been revised with care by the president himself. He takes the occasion to assure the country that a dark age has passed. At the same time he assures the agents of that darkness that they will be exempt from prosecution. The statement betrays an odd mixture of frankness and caution; the appearance of resolution, with a good deal of actual equivocation; a wish to channel the conspicuous truth to one’s own cause without revealing a disadvantageous quantity of truth.

Bush Torture Memos: Commercial Diets Used As Justification
Sam Stein | Huffingtonpost.com

In an effort to rationalize the use of dietary manipulation on detainees, Bush administration officials turned to Slim Fast and Jenny Craig.

In a footnote to a May 10, 2005, memorandum from the Office of Legal Council, the Bush attorney general’s office argued that restricting the caloric intake of terrorist suspects to 1000 calories a day was medically safe because people in the United States were dieting along those lines voluntarily.

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